How to make cheap and easy foraging toys at home.

I’ve had lots of people lately ask me how to make foraging toys for their birds out of products you can find at home.   It’s taken me a while to get around to doing it, but I give you now a photo blog of homemade foraging toys!  *drum roll, please*

But first!  To address those famous four words: “My bird won’t forage.”  Yes, she will.  She just hasn’t learned how yet.  Even the oldest bird with the most severe behavior issues can learn to forage; it is one of the most natural behaviors that they can perform, so once you get them started it will be impossible to stop them!  Start easy: cover their food bowl with a sheet of paper or a paper towel and punch holes in it so your bird can see her food.  After she has gotten used to tossing aside the paper to get to the food, start putting paper over the bowl without any holes in it.  Then, after she’s used to that, wrap the paper around the bowl and secure it with a piece of  twine, or raffia so she has to tear through the paper to get to the food.  Then put teeny-tiny portions of food onto pieces of paper and ball them up, placing them in the bowl.  Then place those food balls into the bowl along with inedible objects like marbles, wooden balls, or other balled up paper that doesn’t have food inside it.  You can also place some food into a paper bag while your bird is watching and then leave the open bag in the bottom of her cage.  After that, you can twist the top of the bag closed.  Get the picture?  Making it progressively more difficult to get to the food will gradually introduce her to the concept of foraging.

Another issue I want to bring up before delving into the fun photos is also very important.  It might be really hard for some people to fully realize and embrace this concept, because the opposite is such an ingrained part of our culture, but it is the truth: FOOD DOES NOT EQUAL LOVE.  You are not being more loving to your bird by giving her more food.  When a bird has more food than she can possibly eat in a week piled into her bowls every day, she will inevitably choose to only eat the high-fat, lower-nutrient foods, and she will be less inclined to learn how to forage.  Your bird will not feel more loved; instead, she will be overweight, undernourished, bored, anxious, depressed, and hormonal.

MEETING HER TRUE NEEDS *DOES* EQUAL LOVE. Give your bird what she needs for her physical, mental, and emotional health.  Give her a moderate amount of food, and let her spend each day working for her food, just like you work for yours!  The amount of food that your bird needs will vary among species and individuals, but a good rule of thumb is to measure out a specific amount of food at the beginning of the day.  It should be a large amount—more than she would ever finish in one day.  At the end of the day, collect what is left in her bowl, gather up as much off the floor of her cage and around her cage as possible,  and measure what didn’t get eaten.  Subtract that from the total amount that you left in her bowl, and that should give you an idea of how much she actually eats each day.  If she gets a wide variety of foods (as she should), this may mean only giving her one type of food just for one day so that it’s easier to measure—preferably the food that she likes most.  Whatever she eats in a day – let’s say, for a theoretical bird which we shall name Daisy, that’s 4 tablespoons – you want to offer about 125% of that as her daily portion (to allow for some waste, or for extra calories on days when she’s more active or needs more calories for other reasons)—which for Daisy would be 5 tablespoons.   You will find that she will waste much less of the food, expand her palate to enjoy many different kinds of foods that she previously would never have touched, and will be much more enthusiastic about learning to forage!

So, with that in mind, on to cheap and easy foraging ideas!

First I’ll show you some foraging toys that I had already made but had not been destroyed by my birds yet.


Never underestimate the useability of old, used up toys.  As long as it doesn’t have any rusty metal, soiled porous materials, or dangerous, sharp edges, an old toy that your bird has thoroughly enjoyed can often times be recycled.  The toy in the photo on the left used to be the preening toy in the photo on the right until my female eclectus, Cah’ya, destroyed every last fiber.  Instead of throwing it out, I made it a new preening toy with exciting foraging capabilities!  I simply tore up strips of some old pajamas (washed in bird-safe Chlorhexidine, rather than laundry detergent), knotted them around a piece of raffia, and tied the raffia through the hole where the old rope used to be fastened.  Then, I tied some raw organic almonds and pistachios, still in the shell, into some of the cloth strips.  Not only can Cah’ya preen with it now, she can also root around for some tasty nuts!


This boring plastic chain was inexplicably attached to one of my playgyms when I got it.  I thought about just removing it, but decided instead to turn it into an exciting new foraging toy.  I simply put small amount of food into pieces of napkin paper, balled the papers up, then tied one to each link of the chain with raffia.  It took me less than five minutes to make a toy that provided hours of entertainment to my bird and can be used over and over again.

(Also note the toy on the right side of the picture.  It is a $3 infant toy that I got, along with many others, at a local grocery store.  These toys are not suitable for macaws, cockatoos, and even some amazons, because they are more like to chew up the plastic and could ingest it, but most other species of parrots really enjoy these toys for their moveable parts and the mental challenges they provide.  Some of the toys have buttons that, when pushed, flash lights, play songs, or say words and phrases.  These toys are especially useful, as they are interactive and can teach birds to sing or speak.  And the most expensive one I’ve found so far is $6, which is MUCH cheaper than most comparable bird toys.  This isn’t really foraging-related, but I thought it might be helpful nonetheless.)


If you know a handy kind of guy who has tools in his garage or workshed, put him to good use!  You can usually get scraps of (make sure it’s untreated!) wood at a lumber yard or hardware store for cheap or free, and then turn it into all kinds of fun for your birds.  Drilling small holes into, but not through, a big block of wood like the one in the picture above makes a great foraging toy.  Just stuff the holes with nuts or pellets and your birds will spend hours trying to dig them all out.

Another toy idea that isn’t exactly foraging but is useful nonetheless for those bigger birds who like to destroy wood and/or disassemble their cages: drill multiple holes all the way through a piece of (again, untreated) 2×4 and then put screws or bolts through the holes and fasten them to the wood with washers and wingnuts.  Your bird will have a blast trying to unscrew the bolts and push them out of the wood, and then will reduce the 2×4 to splinters!  (Edit: Kitt reminded me in her wonderful comment below to mention that any and all hardware you use for your bird toys should be marine grade stainless steel.  Anything with zinc, lead, or nickel will cause heavy metal toxicosis, which can be fatal.)


It’s difficult to tell from this photo (hey, I never said I was a photographer), but this is one fourth of a Starbucks drink holder.  They use recycled paper (NEVER use styrofoam, plastic, or dyed containers), so instead of throwing it away, I decided to use it.  I cut it into fourths, shoved a piece of cardboard into the bottom of each one so that the food wouldn’t fall through the holes, then for good measure I tied a piece of old fabric to the outside to further prevent the food from falling out.  Then I tied raffia all the way around the cup a few times so that the food was a little harder to reach and hung these from varying lengths of raffia all over the playgyms.  (The food, in case you’re wondering, is a mixture of Avian Naturals, Phoenix UnPellet, red rooibos tea, chamomile, hibiscus, star anise, and dried goji berries, pomegranate, and blueberries.)

***WORD OF WARNING*** When using raffia to hang your foraging toys, ALWAYS use only ONE STRAND to hang the toy.  If you use two or more strands, your bird can get caught between the strands by the neck and hang herself.  It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened!

Anyway, as you can see in the photos below, the birds either have to reach for them, as Bayu is doing on the left, or lift them up by the string of raffia and hold the toy while they eat the food.  Cah’ya, pictured on the right, was doing that before I pulled out my camera, but then she got camera shy and just stood there.  But I’m still including the picture because you can imagine how she would pull it up.


Now, finally, on to the toys with the step-by-step instructions!  First, the building blocks of almost every foraging toy I make:


This gives you an idea of how small the portions are in each paper treat ball.  A single almond in the shell, one nutriberry, a teaspoon of Birdelicious or Avian Naturals…a little food goes a long way in keeping foraging fun and interesting for your bird.  In this photo I use recycled packing paper and a strip of napkin paper, but any kind of bird-safe paper will do.

People have also asked me, “Why put the food in the paper balls?”  Well, in addition to making the food more challenging to get to, in a way it actually makes it less frustrating for the bird as well.  If you just put the food straight into a toy, a lot of it tends to get spilled.  When wrapped in a ball, your bird can actually grab the paper ball and hold it, and then either open it or chew a hole in it and take pieces of food out in her own good time.  Much less is spilled that way, and she hasn’t just gone through all the work of foraging only to have it spilled on the floor!

But while we’re on the topic of food being spilled on the floor, let’s take a moment to talk about ground foraging.  I will never understand why grates get placed in the bottom of bird cages.  They say it’s so that the birds won’t come into contact with their feces, but are you kidding?  Grates get full of bird poop and are difficult to clean.  Plus, birds come into contact with their feces on the cage bars, perches, toys…  The key to sanitation isn’t yet another surface to have to clean; it’s merely keeping the surfaces that are already there cleaned on a regular basis.  I remove the grates from all my cages and let my birds forage on the ground.  It provides another method of foraging, and that way when they inevitably spill some of the foraged food, it is not lost to them forever; they simply have to go forage a little more to get to it.  Whether or not you decide to do this is your choice, but don’t keep a grate simply because you’ve been told that that’s what you have to do.

Ok, enough preambles already, right?  Lets get to the toys!

We’ll start with an easy toy:


You can’t tell in this picture, but I tied these two paper towel tubes together with a piece of raffia and stuffed a couple of paper treat balls way down into the center of them.  There is regular, un-treat-filled paper stuffed in either side to fill up the tube, and then I stuck the tubes into the Get-A-Grip to immobilize it a little bit.  My birds really have to chew and unstuff this toy to get to the treats, but they have learned from experience that they’re in there! (Edit: Again, Kitt reminded me to point out that any paper towel or toilet paper holders should not have the glue still on them, as the glue is not bird safe.  You will notice that none of the ones in any of my pictures have the strips of glue; this is because they are easily removed by simply peeling them off.  Just make sure you do it!)

Next, making paper bags more interesting after you’ve gotten your bird used to the concept of the food being in the paper bag:


A lot of these paper balls are empty; only about four have food inside.


Instead of just filling the bag, I tie it about half way up and make a second stuffed section.


Again, most of the paper balls are empty.


The finished product has two tiers of foraging opportunities, giving your bird more of a challenge, and consequentially more treats to find!  The first few times you make this toy, you might want to tear a hole in the top and bottom of the bag and stick a treat into the hole so that your bird gets the idea that she has to dig into it to find food.

You can also do a lot with UNWAXED (make absolutely sure they are wax free!) paper cups:


First, I impale six paper cups onto the blade of my scissors.


Then I run a piece of raffia through all six cups and tie a wooden bead to the bottom so they will stay on the raffia.


I put a paper treat ball in each cup, then tie another wooden bead at the top cup so that the cups can’t fully come apart–that way my birds will have to tear through the cups to get to the treat balls.


Voila!  Stack’o’cups extraordinaire!

Here’s another one you can do with cups:


Get two paper cups, make holes in the bottom of each cup, and string raffia through them so that they are facing each other…


…stuff each cup with paper treat balls…


…and stick one of the cups into the other!  Simply tie the two raffia ends together, making sure one end is long enough to hang from the top of the cage or playstand.

And here’s another easy one, using both a paper cup and a toilet paper roll:


Thread raffia through holes in the top of the cup and then through holes in the top of the toilet paper roll, then stuff the TP roll with paper treat balls and inedible stuff.  In this batch, I also shoved some shredders in there for some added fun.

You can also just hang a TP roll by itself, like this:


I put the paper treat ball (or two) in the center and then stuff the outsides with empty paper, so that the birds have to dig to get to the good stuff.

You can also recycle To-Go boxes, as long as they are made from recycled paper and not from styrofoam.


First, I cut each half of the To-Go box in quarters (if the bottom half is soiled with grease or salt from the food in it, I will not use it for the birds).


Then, I punch holes that are somewhat evenly spaced around the edges of the box.


Then I “sew” the two sides together with raffia.


Then I line the box with paper and stuff it with paper treat balls and empty paper balls.


And that’s that!  A little foraging purse, easy as pie!

Remember how I used that old preening toy of Cah’ya’s to make a new preening/foraging toy for her?  Well…


I didn’t need the old toy to make a comparable one for Bayu.  I just tied strips of shredded fabric to a string of raffia, tied some nuts and treats into a few of the strips, then tied the raffia together into a small loop.  Same toy, just without the plastic bell on top!

Reducing paper waste in your house and finding a use for items that used to go straight in the trash is great!  It gives a whole new meaning to “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  But you can also help your vet reduce waste as well!


These are syringe cases.  Sterile syringes come sealed in these things, and after the seal on the caps is broken and the syringes are removed, they end up in the trash…


…UNLESS you can turn them into foraging toys!


You can either hang them by themselves…


…OR you can stuff them, along with paper, into a TP roll or a paper cup to add an extra challenge.  Most birds do need to be shown how to unscrew the caps, and I even left the caps only partially on the case for the first few times before gradually pushing it farther and farther onto the case.  Now, my birds grip those suckers and pry those caps off like nobody’s business, but it definitely does take practice.  I should again caution you, though: be careful with the bigger birds like macaws and cockatoos with the plastic.  Make sure that they don’t chew it up, especially not if they’re going to ingest it!

Now is as good a time as any to remind everyone that it is vital that you watch your pet carefully with any new toy.  Every bird is going to interact with their toys differently, and until you know how they are going to play with something, make sure they are being safe.  Most of these toys are totally harmless, but even with them, if a bird decides to try to EAT cardboard or paper, she could be in grave danger.  And, the necessary disclaimer: these are just ideas that I use with my birds.  I cannot be held responsible if an accident occurs with your bird when you make your own foraging toys at home.

Moving along: these are just a few ideas of foraging toys that you can make, fairly quickly and easily, for next to nothing.  The sky is the limit.  Some other ideas that I have used in the past but didn’t make this time around:

* Finger traps – You can buy them in big packages and either incorporate them into any of the products above, or just simply stuff some foods into one and hang it solo.  These are especially great for smaller birds, like budgies, ‘tiels, and parrotlets, because it isn’t as difficult for them to chew through the palm leaf as cardboard or paper cups.

* Tamale wrappers/lettuce/kale – Place some food in the center of the wrapper or leaf and roll it up into a miniature birdie-burrito.  Tie some raffia around either end, and you have a foraging toy!  Tamale wrappers are also great for stuffing some of the acrylic foraging toys as well.

* Straws – grab a bundle of them, tie them together with a zip tie, and put a tiny piece of food – e.g. pine nut, sunflower seed, little cluster of millet, pea, dried berry or piece of fruit, etc. – in a few of the ends.  This is another great one for smaller birds.  Medium to large birds have a tendency to try to chew up the straw, although my ekkies never have.

* Cardboard boxes – cut squares and “sew” them together on three ends with raffia (as in the To-Go box above), then stuff pieces of food in between the layers.  This is a great one for the bigger birds like ‘caws and ‘toos because they can really gnaw on that cardboard.

* Hanging fruit – stab a piece of fruit, run some raffia through it, and hang it from the top of the cage or playgym.  They will have to eat the fruit while it dangles, just like they would in the wild.

* Threading veggies – weave leaf veggies, green beans, and strips of peppers between the cage bars so they have to work to get them out.

* Coffee filters – This is another one that Kitt reminded me of that I forgot to mention before.  You can also make foraging toys out of coffee filters by simply balling them up with a little food inside and hanging them like that, or coming up with your own fun version.  One thing that I did with coffee filters for my ‘tiels and lovebirds in high school – before I even knew about the concept of foraging toys – was to stack coffee filters on top of each other (similar to the paper cup idea) and put some of their pellets and seeds in between each layer.  I did this because I noticed how much all our birds loved to stick their heads into things: our mouths (we did our best not to let them, but that sure didn’t stop them from trying on a regular basis), sofa cushions, flowers, curtains…they just really liked probing into small spaces.  The coffee filter layers allowed them to probe between the layers for their food instead of obsessing over trying to pick our teeth!

These are just a few ideas, but now that you have a good idea of what is possible, be creative and explore different toy ideas yourself!  And when you come up with some cool new foraging toys, please let me know.  I’m always trying to come up with new and more challenging toys for my fids.

And please, don’t be disheartened by the thought of having to make toys for the rest of your life.  It really isn’t as much work as it seems.  It took me four hours to make all the toys in this bag –


– which is enough to last me about a month.  (Oh!  And that blue and white thing on top is a finger trap that I was talking about earlier.)  So, really, once a month you just pop in a few movies and sit down and make toys.  It’s actually kind of fun.  And if you have family members to help, it takes even less time and provides some family bonding time as well.  Don’t think of it as work; realize that it’s enriching for everyone—including you!

For more ideas about avian enrichment and foraging, check out the following:

The Parrot Enrichment Activity Books

Avian Enrichment

Captive Foraging DVD

About Emily Strong

behavior consultant. veterinary technician. crazy parrot lady. lifelong animal lover. cellist. yogi. hula hooper. horse rider. swimmer. singer. reader. writer. dreamer. music lover. amateur gardener. nutrition enthusiast. eternal student. language lover. aspiring polyglot. tattoo canvas. water drinker. overthinker. bountiful laugher. overenthusiast. attention deficit meditator.
This entry was posted in Behavior, Birds, Education, Enrichment, Health, Nutrition, Wellness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to How to make cheap and easy foraging toys at home.

  1. Kitt Ferraz says:

    Great ideas Emily; thank you for posting. Couple of things to add:

    When it comes to the nuts and bolts,make sure to use marine grade, stainless steel, no nickel or zinc additives. Also be careful when using empty paper towel or toilet paper holders; the glue used in the products is not considered bird safe.

    I use natural coffee filters also. I wrap small pieces of food,ball them up and hang them using hemp.

    I also use paper cups but did not know about making the stackers. That’s next!!!

    See you soon and thanks again….great ideas!

  2. Lynda Troutman says:

    Thank you so much for this valuable information. I have been wanting to ask you about this for a long time myself. Wish me luck, Lynda

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  4. Fleepmo says:

    Wonderful ideas!!! 🙂

  5. I don’t have a bird yet but I can’t wait until I am able to get one of my own. I love all of your ideas! They are very creative and fun. My only question was about the hanging fruit. I have read through some sources that seeds in the fruit are toxic to birds. Have you heard this also? If so how do you make sure your birds don’t get the fruit seeds when they are foraging with the fruit?

    • I’m glad you liked the ideas! Yes, some fruits do have toxic seeds – apples, cherries, and peaches, for instance, are a few of them – but I don’t hang those. I hang a baby banana or a cluster of seedless grapes or berries or slices of the larger fruits, like apple, but a whole apple or a whole peach is waaaaaay too much fruit for one bird to eat at any one time, anyway. It’s quite easy to avoid the toxic seeds by simply slicing up the fruit and removing the core/seeds.

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  7. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much these are amazing ideas…I just got a goffin cockatoo and have spent a fortune on toys but realized I hadn’t gotten any foraging toys…thankfully I now know how to make some!!!

  8. Shannon says:

    How do I know what nuts and bolts are safe though?

    • I’m glad this blog entry was helpful to you! You can buy marine grade stainless steel nuts and bolts at any hardware store, like Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s. Happy toy making!

  9. Robin V says:

    This article is great!
    All the tips about what materials to learn are so helpful!
    I will definitely be putting these ideas to use!
    On the topic of bottom-of-cage-grates: I did take mine out once, but put it back in because I was afraid my parakeets might get their heads stuck between the outer raised edge of the bottom tray and the metal bars themselves.
    Do you have any thoughts or ideas on this?
    Thank you so much!

    • Thank you for the kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Since writing it I have also found hemp string to be extremely useful, and have almost entirely replaced raffia with hemp string. You can get it at any craft store, like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

      As for cage grates, yes, obviously use common sense when it comes to your specific cage and bird(s). Some cage bottoms are not safe for birds. I do know several people with cages like that who have to keep their grates in for safety reasons, but still wanted to allow their birds to be able to forage for the dropped food on the cage floor. Their solution is to put newspaper or butcher paper on top of the grate, and that seems to work very well. So, even if you have a cage that requires the cage grate to stay, you can still set your birds up for foraging success (and make the cleaning easier on yourself!).

  10. Harlie says:

    Should you take their food dishes out of their cage when doing this?

    • My birds all have one bowl for water and one bowl for their fresh foods. Some of the birds have water bottles, too, while others don’t. I leave their bowls in their cages all day long. The only time they are removed is when they are being cleaned and refilled.

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  12. jan jones says:

    wow, thank you so much for all of this wonderful info! I was on my way to buy a book containing all of this info from Amazon, but wanted to wait until I had $25 minimum to get free shipping. In the meantime, I googled homemade foraging toys and struck gold! I am inheriting a quaker parrot whom I am told is a feather picker. I think this , along with lots of love and attention is just what she may need! I am so thankful to have found this site. I am so excited to start recycling things to make some of these toys for her as well as my green cheek conures, who don’t know how to forage yet, but will most likely love it when they learn. What a great resource.

    • Emily Strong says:

      You’re welcome, Jan! I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. I’ve been meaning to do an update piece with some other ideas, but as you can tell I don’t have time to update the blog as often as I’d like and there are about a dozen other topics I want to cover first!

  13. Cathy says:

    Thank you so much for these great ideas!! We have 2 new pet parakeets and I haven’t had birds since I was a kid. We are really enjoying them, but I was looking for homemade toy ideas since the store bought ones are so pricey! Can’t wait to make some of these!

  14. Ann says:

    I just found this site and am enjoying it very much. We have an amazon. She is a rescue, have had her about 9 years. Best guess is she was used as a breeder bird. She is not hand tame but is a happy healthy bird that loves toys now. We also have a cockatoo, another rescue. He was 18 when we got him and is 26 now. Just adopted a blue & gold macaw last Saturday. So I am always looking for new ideas on bird toys. Thank you for the great ideas. Ann

  15. bob says:

    nice idea I cut up some oak then drilled holes and ran a chine through it keep bird busy for awhile

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  17. Fatima says:

    Hi,i just got a parrot two days ago and am so excited about building these toys for him. I just wanted to ask though when using paper to make the little paper treat balls, isn’t there any danger of them ingesting the paper? And is that dangerous if they do? Thank you 🙂

    • Emily Strong says:

      Congratulations on your new bird! While there is no such thing as a 100% safe toy, paper is a relatively safe thing to offer most birds because most birds are easily able to differentiate between edible and inedible objects. However, every bird is an individual, and some birds do have pica, which is a condition where animals (or people) ingest inedible objects. If your bird is known to ingest inedible objects, then offering food in paper balls may not be the best or safest strategy. As with all things, it is important to watch your bird interact with each new object to be sure that they are interacting with them in safe and appropriate ways. Best of luck!

  18. Fred says:

    Hi, I got an alexandrine parakeet 1 months ago, but he’s only 3 months 1 week old. He eats solid food etc but I don’t know if he should forage for his feed or not. Can you tell me please? BTW this is a great guide. As there are not many local stores here that sell foraging toys, so makeshift ones were the ones I was looking for. And these are definitely great! Thanks a lot for the effort! 🙂

    • Emily Strong says:

      Congratulations on your new feathered companion! This is a great time to start teaching your bird how to forage. In the wild, young birds learn how to forage by following around flock members and watching them find food. You can start teaching your bird very simple, easy, beginner’s versions of foraging. To learn more about teaching birds how to forage, you can check out Dr. Scott Echols’ DVD Captive Foraging and Phoebe Green-Linden’s “Abundantly Avian”. There are also a lot of information and resources in the Files section of The Parrot’s Workshop on Facebook.

  19. Hoping to try this with my Alexandrine 😀 Anything to keep him busy and stimulated XD

  20. camille lawrence says:

    I have my parakeet for a long time. It’s mate died awhile ago and my Hedwig is not the same. I think these toys will make her happy. I don’t have much to spend on toys. Any advice for my parakeet ?

    • Emily Strong says:

      Hi Camille,

      I’m sorry for your loss. Giving birds a job to do is crucial for their mental health, so yes, I would recommend teaching Hedwig how to forage. You can do so using the ideas on this blog, or if you’re on Facebook, join The Parrot’s Workshop, which is a group that focuses on how to make toys and other enrichment items for birds. Best of luck!

  21. JennysDad says:

    Hi, love your page and thank you for the very helpful ideas and tips! My Mrs. and I had wanted and researched Conures over the last two or three years, after falling in love with an exceptionally cuddly, adorable, kissy little Sun Conure we would see a few times each week that was stuck in our local chain pet store for months that we would sneak healthy snacks to, who was, sadly for us, sold to another family by the time we were all set up and ready and able to take him home. We’ve finally had the pleasure of adopting a female Jenday of our own recently and we know she would love many of your great ideas, so naturally being very handy, I will try many of these ideas out this week… I also have one easy hammock tip to share that our baby loves. I bought two one quarter-inch, untreated, red oak dowels from Home Depot, for about $3, than took a clean cotton dollar store bandana, cut quarter-inch holes about every two inches or so apart along the bandanas seams on two opposite edges and pushed one dowel through one row of holes (alternating in and out) along one edge and the second dowel through the second row on the other edge so that it resembles an old army stretcher and left the dowels two inches longer than the cages width so that the dowels can reach through each side of the cage, and than tied the extra outside one inch per side with some thin rope to keep it from sliding. Our Jenny frolics and sleeps in it whenever she’s in her cage and often brings her food and toys up into it, it’s very easy to remove, pull out the dowels, and wash or replace the bandana and reinstall! 🙂 … I do have one food tip, aside where you already mentioned apple, cherry and peach pits being toxic, I read where you mention giving lettuce. Many bird owners don’t know it but, Iceberg lettuce is a no-no. We didn’t know it till we read and read and read some more avian experts warn that Chocolate, Avocado (and its pit), Caffeine, and Iceberg Lettuce are also toxic/harmful/deadly for birds. And also that cooked and softened rice in small amounts is OK, but RAW rice is deadly to all species of small and medium birds and never OK (that one we knew), It apparently swells up in their abdomens and intestines and cant be dissolved naturally and essentially clogs them to death! Which is why they don’t throw raw rice at weddings anymore. We read that a small amount of scrambles Eggs are good for them, we tried it and our Jenny absolutely loves that, and also thinly sliced red sweet bell peppers and unsweetened breakfast cereals and a few tiny pieces of a lightly toasted Eggo brand mixed-berry waffle. We’ve read that they can eat almost anything us humans do, just be sure it’s low in fat, sodium, sugar, cholesterol but, high in fibre, and give nuts sparingly, the fat, oil and sodium content is high in most!… We hope that helps some that didn’t already know. 🙂

    • Emily Strong says:

      Thanks for the head’s up, and welcome to the wonderful world of companion parrots! Your hammock idea is an awesome one! Thanks so much for sharing!

      As for the food info you shared, you are absolutely correct that uncooked rice, iceburg lettuce, cocoa, caffeine, and avocado should not be fed to parrots. Other types of lettuce and greens are fabulous in a balanced diet. A couple of additional notes for you: since we know so little about birds and are constantly learning more, some recent info has come out about feeding parrots eggs. The Grey Parrot Project, headed up by Dr. Scott Echols, has discovered that we can induce atherosclerosis in several parrot species in just two months of feeding small amounts of egg to them. For this reason, they advise against feeding eggs. Believe me, this is very new info and up until very recently I used to feed eggs to my birds, too, as a good source of vitamin D during times that I wasn’t able to provide them with natural sunlight. While it is true that several species of wild parrots do eat eggs and even animals such as fish and lizards, the current hypothesis is that they can metabolize fats better because they get a lot more exercise than their captive counterparts. So for our captive birds, we need to avoid feeding them eggs or meat of any kind, in any quantity. We also know that processed flours and sugars in foods such as waffles also contributes to a wide variety of health issues in parrots, so we are now recommending against feeding any foods that contain processed flours and sugars. Birdie breads should be fed in moderation and should only contain nut and seed flours rather than grain flours, and should not contain any sugars other than natural sugars found in whatever berries you want to add to the bread.

      If you’re interested in learning more about feeding parrots a wide variety of enriching foods, I recommend joining The Parrot’s Pantry group on Facebook.

      I wish you and Jenny all the best!

  22. Excellent blog post. I definitely love this website.

  23. Wanda Biery says:

    great info thanks just got my gray am still learning

  24. samantha350 says:

    Great toy ideas for when you don’t want to spend money! Check out my bird blog at 😊

  25. Karen says:

    I have 2 birds and my mom won’t let me buy many toys for it and this is a great help! 😀

  26. Christine Larson says:

    Your creative ideas are extraordinary! I browsed through your piece and was crazy with ideas using stuff that I have but was discarding! Mojo and I thank you!

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